Struggling to keep up with bill payments is all too common. The usual reasons behind this are the high costs associated with service bills. However, what many consumers may not realize is that the method of payment can also have a significant influence on his or her ability to keep up with bill payments.
When a consumer uses an inconvenient method of payment, it is much more likely that a bill payment will come in late. The majority of people believe that there is only one way to pay their bills—although the specific method varies between individuals. They might think that they have to go directly to their bank to pay, or maybe that they have to make a phone call to the service company in order to pay the bill. Both methods of payment are acceptable—but in each case, the consumer isn’t always aware that there are other payment methods. Perhaps a different method would work better for their schedule and abilities than the one they are currently using. If someone has a busy schedule, manually paying bills each month is not the easiest way to ensure that everything is paid on time.
In fact, manual bill payments force the consumer into needing to remember each time they have to pay a bill and if they make partial payments, when they need to make another one. Paying bills manually may also put additional stress on the consumer, particularly if financial struggles are involved.
Internet Banking Paying a bill through Internet banking is perhaps the most common method of bill payments. With a cell phone bill, for example, most banks will allow you to add the service provider as a payee on your chequing account. Each month, after receiving your bill, you would then sign into your bank account, input the amount you have to pay, and then set the service provider as the destination of your payment. Most banks will have a list of companies commonly listed as payees in a menu—all you have to do is start typing in the name of the service provider and you should narrow down the options until you get the one you are looking for. In most cases, you will have an account or client ID number with the service provider, which will act as your account number to pay through your bank. Make sure to double-check this number—if you enter the wrong one, your payments will not go to your bill. You don’t want to end up paying someone else’s bills, do you? Over The Phone Many service providers will allow a consumer to pay his or her bill directly over the phone. More often than not, this will entail giving your account or client ID number to the person on the other end of the call, as well as your credit card number. With this method, a consumer only receives the charge once: on the credit card they enter. However, this method requires the consumer to remember two “payments.” They first have to make the phone call and set up the credit card to pay their service bill. However, the consumer must then remember to pay their credit card, complete with this service bill charge, when that bill comes due. For those with busy schedules, this can often put more stress on them and take more time. Mail a Cheque For those who do not wish to pay with a credit card, many service providers also allow their customers to pay their month service bills by mailing the provider a cheque each month. However, if you choose this method of payment there are some unique elements to keep in mind each time you pay your service bill. Keep a close watch on what the due date is on the service bill—mailing a cheque often takes a few days to arrive at the intended location, and potentially one of two more business days to process and clear your bank after the service provider deposits the cheque.
Thus, each consumer must be sure to leave an adequate amount of time at the end of each billing period to make sure that he or she pays the bill on time. For those who might also struggle with the high costs of some service bills, or perhaps misaligned pay dates, this may not be the most appropriate and effective option. Pre-Authorized Payments Setting up pre-authorized payments for each service bill is akin to going on cruise control. The specific process varies based on the specific service provider, but a consumer must add either credit card or bank account information while setting up pre-authorized payments. This gives the service provider permission to make charges to that account for the consumer’s monthly bill. The consumer in question would still receive a copy of the bill, whether it is an electronic or paper copy, but they would not need to remember about paying the bill each month. The only precaution that a consumer should take when setting up pre-authorized payments is ensuring that there is either a) enough credit on the credit card to include the payment, or b) enough funds in the account. The good news is that a few banks will actually delay the charge by a day or two, should it be from a bank account, so that the consumer has enough time to get the appropriate funds into his or her account. This particular method of payment is perfect for consumers with busy schedules or for those who tend to forget. The Takeaway When looking to pay bills in a timely manner, consumers must examine their daily schedule as well as the options that each service provider offers for bill payment methods. With all of that information in mind, it is important that the consumer evaluates which option fits not only his or her daily schedule, but also what is appropriate for a specific bill, and how long each payment method would take. No one method of payment will work for every single individual—perhaps paying manually through writing cheques every month is appropriate for one customer, whereas paying through pre-authorized payments might work better for another.
Finding the best method of bill payment is essential when it comes to managing your finances!